While we LOVE the mountains local to the Phoenix area and could hike them over and over again, we took some trips up north a few times this year and were reminded of how beautifully diverse our country is- and we didn’t even have to travel that far to find that beauty! I wanted to share a few thoughts on that today as well as document some of the stunning sights we saw.One place we visited a few times this year was Flagstaff. We did some kid friendly hikes and I also took a long solo hike to see some Aspen trees and regroup. I had a few strange moments on my solo hike where I realized that the things that make me nervous about hiking alone back home (crazy heat if you start too late in the day during warmer months, rattlesnakes, scorpions, bee swarms) were not really an issue in this new place, but I suddenly had new challenges (aka I’ve never once had to worry about a bear in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve… and while I’ve become quite good at navigating that area, suddenly being in these trails filled with trees was so disorienting and beautiful but also strange. The solo hike was one of only a few times this year I had the luxury of so much time all by myself without worrying about getting back home for a commitment or to help with kids and it was such a strange and wonderful feeling. I found so much peace on that trail. It let my mind go to a different place, a similar place to when I do long distance running.
We also went visited some national parks both in state and out of state to knock a few items off my bucket list- Zion National Park and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Since I am NOT inclined to deal with crowds post-pandemic, I was a little hesitant to actually make this trip happen. However, we decided to just stay away from the most popular trails (it is not like we could do the difficult Angel’s Landing climb with the kiddos anyway, or do a rim to rim hike with them- though I’d really like to some day!) and we were pleasantly surprised to have a lot of space to ourselves early in the morning at those parks. (We visited the North Rim just before it closed for the year so that might have helped as well.) It was such a good reminder that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing or take the instagram picture everyone else is taking to have an amazing experience in life or on the trail! (But also, if you DO want to visit the same amazing sights or do the same adorable poses as other people, you do you. We’ve done a lot of that this past year too. Again, beautiful diversity of place, experience, etc.) There was something truly magical about being in these national parks and feeling so small next to the glory of creation. It made me so thankful that we are preserving these places and trying to keep them accessible for so many people. It reminded me of how many things will outlast us and also left me in awe that water and wind slowly and surely created and changed these places and will continue to do that. I guess it just reminded me of one of the national park mottos- lose reception, find perspective. (OH yeah, heads up that cell phone reception on these trails does not exist…. ) (Tip for if you bring kids to the North Rim- The Transept trail provided us amazing Ridgeline views and lots of fall foliage. It was the perfect distance for our kiddos to not get too tired.)
We have had other hikes a bit further from home- Sedona, sections of the Grand Staricase-Escalante National Monument, state parks… and we still have another national park and some monuments on our list to finish out this year or as part of next year before our America the Beautiful pass expires.
What has been your favorite hiking excursion? Did you make a trip just to do that? Or was it a pleasant addition to an already planned trip? What should I be sure to add to the bucket list?! I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures from visiting Zion.